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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


In my previous essay I visualized the "geometrical approximations of the two sublimities" as a series of "fields of force,." or "domains." In both cases the sublimity-affects were determined by what sort of phenomenal universe they took place in. However, the domains relating to dynamicity did not interpenetrate. For the time being I will designate these domains as DSDs, "dynamic-sublime domains."

The dynamicities of the marvelous and the uncanny cannot manifest within the sphere of the naturalistic at all, because they depend on the alteration of one or both of the rules of causation, and anything that even resembles the tropes of the uncanny or marvelous is subsumed into the naturalistic. An example of this process is cited in this essay, where the uncanny character of PSYCHO'S Norman Bates is recast into naturalistic terms for the teleseries BATES MOTEL.

 In the sphere of the uncanny, marvelous dynamicity cannot manifest, and though naturalistic dynamicity does exist in this sphere, the dynamicity of the uncanny, given the special name "potency," overrules all naturalistic dynamicity. An example of this process is cited in this essay, wherein the only source of the uncanny is the masked vigilante the Durango Kid, whose presence dominates storylines that are in all other respects identical to those of more naturalistic "horse operas."

Finally, dynamicities of the uncanny and the naturalistic can manifest within the sphere of the marvelous, as I showed here with regard to the serial ACE DRUMMOND, where the science-fictional nature of the villain's ray-gun defines the entire narrative as marevelous, overruling the potency of the same villain's uncanny death-trap as well as the naturalistic prowess of the titular hero.

In contrast, the domains relating to the combinatory-sublime-- the CSDs-- interpenetrate quite a bit, because their form of the sublime is not physical, but symbolic. It was because of this symbolic interpenetration of the three phenomenalities that I evolved my 51 percent rule:

I term my solution to this problem the "51 Per Cent Solution."  In business dealings we're accustomed to hearing that a stockholder with 51% of a company's stocks has the greatest advantage, though not an unqualified dominion.

From the beginnings of this blog, I've frequently dealt with the problems of how narratives contain diverse elements that may conflict with one another-- not just elements of phenomenality, but also elements relating to Frye's four mythoi, genre-elements, and so on. It's impossible-- and not really desirable-- to come up with a formula that would faultlessly determine what element held "sovereignty," as Jung called it. The "51 percent rule" was my only attempt to imagine what a statistically determined rule might look like, and I applied it in only a few essays, here, here, and here.  The second essay brings up the example of the Atlas Comics character the Ringo Kid, whose series I decided not to deem metaphenomenal, given that the hero had only one encounter with a metaphenomenal antagonist. a "Doctor Saturn."

  The cinematic version of Ace Drummond also had only one metaphenomenal protagonist, but this version of Drummond-- whom I don't consider identical with the one from the 1936 comic strip-- only had one installment. Thus Ace Drummond satisfies the "51 percent rule," and the Ringo Kid doesn't.

Yet as I played around with the rule in the provisional "super-idiom list" that I mentioned in the first "51 percent" essay, I realized that even some characters who didn't satisfy the "51 percent rule" seemed important to the list. I mentioned in one essay that the protagonists of the comic strips LI'L ABNER and DICK TRACY encountered a substantial number of marvelous or uncanny presences, but that it wasn't feasible to make a statistical breakdown for strips that ran for many years.

But I could and did do a statistical survey on another Old West hero: the Rawhide Kid of Marvel Comics, the company descended from the publisher who did "Ringo Kid" in the 1950s. When I counted the number of Rawhide's purely isophenomenal adventures, and compared them with those in which he'd enjoyed encounters with metaphenomenal entities, the latter worked out to about eight percent of the total stories. So, by the "51 percent rule," Rawhide could not belong to "the superhero idiom" any more than could the Ringo Kid.

And yet, it's evident that for a time, the Kid's creators Lee and Kirby were making a significant attempt to place their combative cowpoke into superhero situations.

Sometimes he encountered crooks who simply wore uncanny outfits, like the Bat from RH #25:

In #35, he encountered a costumed crook with a literally marvelous power.

Like a fair number of Western heroes, he also encountered at least one lost civilization:

And few Marvel-readers can forget Rawhide's momentous "first contact" with an alien resembling an Indian totem pole.

The sum total of these adventures pale in comparison to Rawhide's more mundane adventures-- and yet, something's going on here that isn't going on in the RINGO KID feature. The creators-- not always Lee and Kirby, BTW-- are making substantial use of metaphenomenal elements, so they make up an important, if subordinate, part of Rawhide's fictional mythos.  The "51 percent rule," while helpful as a guiding principle, is too rigid to deal with this loosey-goosey approach to phenomenal integrity.

So, by dint of reading a few posts on shareholder rules, I've happily come across a definition that solves my cowboy conundrum, on this site:

The minority investment can be either minority passive interest or minority active interest. Passive means that the company does not have material influence on the company in which it has this minority interest. Active means that the company is in a position to influence the company in which it has minority interest.

Thus, from the strict view of the "51 percent rule," both Ringo and Rawhide are "minority shareholders" in the realm of the metaphenomenal. However, to extend the above distinction into the realm of literature, Ringo Kid's adventures display only a "minority passive interest" in matters metaphenomenal, while Rawhide Kid's display a "minority active interest"-- that is, Rawhide's encounters with metaphenomenal presences remain a vital part of his mythos, even if they're not numerically superior to all the naturalistic exploits.

This metaphor also solves my above-referenced problem as to how I should rate long-running strips like LI'L ABNER. It have enough fantastic content to satisfy the 51 percent rule, or it may not-- but certainly a strip that produces such weird entities as "Evil-Eye Fleegle" and "the Schmoos" has at least a "minority active interest" in matters metaphenomenal.

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